3 Easy Ways to Earn Cash Back

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Now that we're a couple of months into 2018, it may be a good time to learn how you can earn cash back on your purchases. 

Here are three easy ways to get money back on your everyday purchases. 

Loyalty Rewards Programs
Many of you are familiar with loyalty rewards programs tied to a particular store. Some companies also provide you with rewards for spending across a variety of merchants. In these instances, you simply sign up for an account on the loyalty program's website or app and sync your credit cards to its service. Anytime you spend money on your synced cards at a merchant in its rewards program, you'll receive cash back. 

One such service is Drop, a Toronto-based app seeking to help bring value to millennials through cash back. To use Drop, simply download the app, sync your credit and debit cards, and start opting into merchant offers. You can use code "6w566" to get 1,000 points right off the bat (worth $1).  

Earning rewards is super simple, especially with eligible merchants that include Seamless, Uber, Bloomingdales, Walgreens, and Walmart. After your initial account setup, there really isn't much heavy lifting to do, other than to decide whether you want to redeem your rewards for an Amazon, Nordstrom, or Starbucks gift card, among others. 

After using the app for a couple of months, I've already earned $25 in cash back, mainly because I spend frequently at Seamless and Uber. 

iDine is another site that works similarly to Drop, except it's for restaurants. After registering for an iDine account and syncing your primary payment methods, you're pretty much done. When you go to a restaurant in the iDine network, you'll receive an email requesting you fill out a brief survey about your experience. Once completed, you'll get your 5% cash back to start, but could earn as much as 10% when you spend $750 or more per year at iDine-eligible restaurants. Once you accrue at least $20 worth of rewards, an American Express Rewards Card will be mailed to you, in the following month, with all available rewards. 

Cash-Back Shopping
While Drop and iDine only really require you to register for an account and then work automatically in the background, cash-back shopping requires you to add one small step to your shopping journey whenever you make a purchase. 

To be eligible to earn cash back, you first have to register for a cash-back portal, such as Mr. Rebates or Ebates. Once registered, whenever you're ready to make an online purchase, rather than going directly to a merchant site, instead go to your cash-back shopping portal first. Once there, search for your merchant of choice, and click through to that online store through the portal link. That small step can lead to 1-30% in cash back per transaction. 

The money to fund your cash-back reward is generated through affiliate relationships that cash-back portals have with the various merchants. Each time a portal refers a paying customer to a merchant, a commission is generated. Cash-back portals allow consumers to share in the commission generated through cash-back rewards. 

Credit Card Rewards
Most credit cards offer cardholders some type of reward or benefit to encourage the use of their cards. However, not all credit card rewards programs are created equal. Some credit cards offer the same cash-back or credit card rewards percentage no matter what you buy. For example, the Citi Double Cash Card offers 2% cash back overall - 1% cash back for purchases and another 1% for payments on purchases. 

Other credit card rewards programs offer increased rewards for certain spend categories. As an example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card gives cardholders three points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants, and one point per dollar spent on all other spending categories. 

Determining which card is best for you will depend on your specific spending patterns. Set aside some time to review your spending from the past year and look to see if purchases are skewed to a few categories or spread evenly across spend categories. Armed with that knowledge, you'll be able to make an informed decision on what card would be best for you. 

Having the right credit card, based on your main spending areas, could make a huge difference in the amount of rewards you receive.